5 Ways of Managing Stress as a Leader
Leadership

5 Ways of Managing Stress as a Leader

As a leader, your people will look to you for guidance in times of challenge and uncertainty.   Trying to manage your team as well as yourself during these times can make you vulnerable to high stress that can become chronic if not dealt with properly.   Currently, 69% of executives are considering quitting due […]

November 5th, 2023
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Helina.

Marketing Manager

As a leader, your people will look to you for guidance in times of challenge and uncertainty.

 

Trying to manage your team as well as yourself during these times can make you vulnerable to high stress that can become chronic if not dealt with properly.

 

Currently, 69% of executives are considering quitting due to their wellbeing, and as many as 1 in 3 senior leaders are reported to be exhausted.

 

Learning how to manage stress as a leader is key to your success both professionally and personally.

 

Here are five ways of managing your stress as a leader in 2023.

 

 

Let Go of the Guilt ❌

 

Your employees are human, and so are you.

 

Seeing stress as a weakness or something that needs to be hidden is unhelpful and will not enable you to manage it well.

 

For British entrepreneur Richard Branson, effective stress management starts with not feeling guilty about experiencing it in the first place: “Ditch any guilt you might feel about stopping work and make this relaxation time a priority.”

 

 

Take Those First Steps 🪜

 

From reflecting on his experience with work stress, Jeff Bezos, Founder of Amazon, feels that addressing an issue as soon as it arises is the best way to go.

 

For him, tackling problems head on even if it’s just by making that first phone call or sending out that first email goes on to “dramatically reduce any stress that might come from it”.

 

No matter how small, taking those first steps towards fixing a problem can help to ease your mind as soon as possible.

 

 

Find a Quiet Space & Breathe 😮‍💨

 

For Oprah Winfrey, she likes to find a quiet space to take a minute and be alone: “A bathroom cubicle works wonders, I close my eyes, turn inward, and breathe”.

 

This is a similar story for businesswoman Melinda Gates. By being so in tune with her mind and body, she can tell when she needs to take time out to slow down – “I have this chronic place in my back that as soon as I start to feel it, I know there’s been too much in my day”.

 

She’s an advocate for meditation apps and how they help to guide her breathing. Whilst she recognises that we don’t always have that spare 20 minutes to sit and meditate, she feels that there is still value in taking small, frequent meditation breaks when and where we can: “I learned from a great meditation teacher that if you just sit in small increments throughout the day, those moments will add up like pearls on a string.”

 

 

Exercise It Out 🚴‍♀️

 

We all know exercise is good for us, and health psychologist Elissa Epel says that by engaging in physical exercise, we are also helping to protect our bodies from stress.

 

He stated that “occasional shots of high stress” help to build our resilience and make us “better prepared to handle future, unexpected stressors”. He describes it as “a bit like getting a stress vaccine” and that one way of getting a shot of this high stress can be through high intensity exercise.

 

A popular training protocol for such exercise is ‘high-intensity interval training’, also known as ‘HIIT’. This style of training consists of short bursts of intense exercise along with short periods of rest.

 

If this sounds too much for you, there is still value in doing lighter forms of exercise. Michelle Obama describes any exercise as an effective ‘physical release’ from stress.

 

 

Alter Your Mindset 🧠

 

What about a mental way of coping with stress?

 

Stanford University lecturer and psychologist Kelly McGonigal says that we can learn to make stress our friend. By changing how we think and act, we can transform our experience of stress.

 

She explains that stress in shorts bursts is perfectly OK – in fact, it energises us, and helps to push us in meeting deadlines for example.

 

What we want to be avoiding is chronic stress. This is because high levels of cortisol, one of our stress hormones, increases the chances of us developing physical and mental problems due to the damage it causes our body when these levels stay elevated.

 

So, the next time we experience stress, we should change how we look at it.

 

Dr Kelly McGonigal says that when we choose to view our stress response as helpful, we “create the biology of courage”.

For example, when we begin to breathe faster, it’s not a problem. This is just one way our body is helping to get more oxygen to our brain to help us better respond to our current situation.

Using symptoms of stress to motivate and spur you on can be a really helpful way of navigating stress when it arises in your day-to-day job.

 

 

It’s about rethinking how we perceive, handle, and go on to managing our stress as a leader that will help us to best deal with it in the future.

 

 


 

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